(Adds deal size and final pricing terms in first two paragraphs, Fitch note in 4th, 5th paragraphs)
By Patrick McGee
Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) sold $1 billion of 10-year notes in the U.S. credit markets Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The 4.10% coupon notes were priced to yield 4.115%, or 2.125 percentage points over the Treasury rate.
The Rule 144A private-placement notes are expected to be rated Baa3 by Moody's Investors Service and BBB-minus by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings--the lowest investment-grade ratings.
Fitch said Wednesday the company has a "strong record" of reserve replacement and production growth and low leverage.
"SWN's reserve growth has been through the drill bit as opposed to the checkbook and has averaged greater than 400% over the last three years," Fitch noted. "The focus of the company has been on its home turf, the Fayetteville Shale play, where it has operated for more than a decade and which has a calculated reserve life of approximately 12 years using 2011's production figures. Fayetteville holds approximately 87% of SWN's total proved reserves."
Southwestern intends to use the proceeds to repay some outstanding debt under a credit facility. It may also use proceeds for general working capital, including to fund 2012 capital programs.
A change of control provision will allow investors to redeem the notes at 101 cents on the dollar in case the company is acquired.
Citigroup and J.P. Morgan are leading the sale.
-By Patrick McGee, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2382; firstname.lastname@example.org